13 Songs

EDITORS’ NOTES

Back in the early ‘00s, North Carolina group Little Brother were arguably the biggest thing in the hip-hop underground, garnering accolades from ?uestlove, Pete Rock, and pretty much every website and magazine out there. 9th Wonder's sample-heavy beats set the perfect tone for Phonte and Big Pooh's relatable rhymes, touching on everyday struggles like money woes, parenthood, and trying to make it as a professional artist. Since 2003, they've dropped four full-lengths and several mixtapes, cut ties with one member, signed with and walked away from a major label, endured beefs with BET and ABB, and toured the world. LeftBack is their fourth and final album, and it plays like a swan song, albeit a really dope and funky one. Though 9th is long gone, KHRYSIS and Nicolay pick up any slack on the beats, while 'Te and Pooh sound stronger than ever. "Curtain Call" is easily one of the best songs of the year. Other highlights include the party jam "Two Step Blues," string-propelled "What We Are," and ultra-smooth "Second Chances," featuring Bilal and Darien Brockington.      

EDITORS’ NOTES

Back in the early ‘00s, North Carolina group Little Brother were arguably the biggest thing in the hip-hop underground, garnering accolades from ?uestlove, Pete Rock, and pretty much every website and magazine out there. 9th Wonder's sample-heavy beats set the perfect tone for Phonte and Big Pooh's relatable rhymes, touching on everyday struggles like money woes, parenthood, and trying to make it as a professional artist. Since 2003, they've dropped four full-lengths and several mixtapes, cut ties with one member, signed with and walked away from a major label, endured beefs with BET and ABB, and toured the world. LeftBack is their fourth and final album, and it plays like a swan song, albeit a really dope and funky one. Though 9th is long gone, KHRYSIS and Nicolay pick up any slack on the beats, while 'Te and Pooh sound stronger than ever. "Curtain Call" is easily one of the best songs of the year. Other highlights include the party jam "Two Step Blues," string-propelled "What We Are," and ultra-smooth "Second Chances," featuring Bilal and Darien Brockington.      

TITLE TIME
3:12
4:38
2:54
4:35
4:14
4:05
2:54
3:50
4:19
4:27
4:18
4:24
3:57

About Little Brother

Part of the new millennium resurgence of alternative rap, Little Brother drew from atypical inspirations for Southern hip-hop: classic Native Tongues outfits like De La Soul and A Tribe Called Quest, as well as more recent torch-bearers like the Roots and Black Star. MCs Phonte (born Phonte Coleman) and Big Pooh (born Thomas Jones) swapped rhymes with an easy chemistry, but the group's real focal point was DJ/producer 9th Wonder (born Pat Douthit), an old-school sampling technician who quickly established himself as a worthy heir to production wizards like DJ Premier and Pete Rock. Little Brother formed at North Carolina Central University, located in Durham. All three members had known each other since 1998, when they performed in a local hip-hop outfit called the Organization; after that group's dissolution in 2000, they spearheaded a 12-member crew dubbed the Justus League. The trio worked together off and on in varying combinations, until they officially teamed up as Little Brother in August 2001, adopting the name as a humble nod to their influences. Their first recording together was "Speed," a playful, down-to-earth look at the pressures of holding a day job while trying to make it in the music business; it set the tone for much of their early material. Over the next few months, they developed enough of a repertoire to start performing live around the area, and quickly earned a following. When the group made its music available for download on the Internet, a substantial buzz built far outside of North Carolina, and it eventually earned them a deal with the Oakland-based ABB Records in 2002. In early 2003, Little Brother released their full-length debut, The Listening, which won widespread critical praise that focused especially on 9th Wonder's production. The buzz helped him earn a raft of high-profile outside gigs, including tracks on a pair of multi-platinum releases: The Black Album by Jay-Z and Destiny Fulfilled by Destiny's Child. Little Brother leapt to a major label (along with ABB) in 2005 for The Minstrel Show. In January 2007, as the group was finishing up its next release, Getback, it was announced that Little Brother had left Atlantic and that 9th Wonder had amicably left Little Brother. The 2008 mixtape ...And Justus for All was their first release as a duo. Two years later they announced their coming album, Leftback, would likely be their last. ~ Steve Huey

  • ORIGIN
    Durham, NC
  • FORMED
    2001

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